A look at e-mails: Clinton’s ‘quid pro quo’ controversy

Both the State Department and the FBI have denied this was a quid pro quo

House Benghazi Investigation
(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

(CNN) – There are competing claims on communications between the State Department and the FBI over the classification of one of Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Republican nominee Donald Trump called it proof of illegal collusion intended to protect Clinton from criminal charges.

Both the State Department and the FBI have denied this was a quid pro quo, despite the allegations of an FBI employee who used that very phrase.

State Department Spokesman John Kirby offered an explanation about the email, which at the time it was sent was not marked classified.

Kirby said, “Pat Kennedy did call the FBI and tried to get a little bit better understanding about why they wanted one particular e-mail classified secret. We didn’t see it that way. We didn’t think it needed to be classified, but the FBI held firm to their position.”

He continued, “There was no bargain rendered. This was simple – an inter-agency conversation about the classification over one particular e-mail.”

The emails and interview notes from the FBI’s Clinton email investigation show that the allegation is based on two somewhat contradictory interviews with FBI officials that were recently released to the public.

In the first, someone from the FBI’s records management division told investigators that another FBI employee told him that the State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick Kennedy pressured to have one email remain unclassified, in exchange for a quid pro quo.

The return favor? Stationing more FBI agents overseas in sensitive areas.

According to investigators’ notes, the individual believed the “state has an agenda which involves minimizing the classified nature of the Clinton emails in order to protect state interests and those of Clinton.”

However, a second FBI employee, who said he or she spoke to Undersecretary Kennedy personally, said that it was the FBI – not the State Department – that proposed the quid pro quo of stationing more agents abroad.

To be clear, in the end, the email in question was upgraded to classified, and no new FBI agents were stationed overseas.